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General Discussion

General questions about programming

I'm just really confused on where to go and what to do. Hopefully some of the more experienced can clear up my concerns. My goal is to be able to program my own web apps (I've got a few ideas) and maybe some video games/software in the future.

I'm really interested in python, but I don't know if that's the write course of action. I'm familiar with html. I know you can make games with python, but I have a mac and I don't know if that's good for gaming.

I also wanted to create something similar to twitch.tv. I know that's pretty complicated, but I love dreaming. Would javascript be good? Also, is javascript considered a server-side language?

Thanks

4 Answers

Nicholas Olsen
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.a{fill-rule:evenodd;}techdegree
Nicholas Olsen
Front End Web Development Techdegree Student 19,342 Points

Don't worry too much about what language to learn. If you want to create web apps, you can do so in Python, Javascript (w/ Node), Ruby, or PHP. A Twitch.tv clone can be made in all of those.

Just pick a project and a platform and start creating. When you hit a point that you don't have the knowledge to continue, then take the appropriate course, or read the appropriate articles/books and keep moving forward. You will get better with practice.

Worrying about what platform you're going to use is very common and overrated.

Ken Alger
STAFF
Ken Alger
Treehouse Teacher

Tristan;

I would echo what Nicholas said. If you are, like many of us, just starting out or returning to, programming I think the key thing is to choose a language and become highly proficient. Like Nicholas said, you will at times get stuck. That's when you do more learning, right?

If you have some ideas in mind about apps or games to write, choose a suitable language and get started on some of the basics. There are many languages from which to choose, as you know, and for many projects you will ultimately need to at least dabble in a few different ones. Javascript for front-end, PHP for server side, for example.

In terms of what you can learn here at Treehouse, look at the various language offerings that are in the Library and see which one makes the most sense to you to start learning. From looking at your profile it looks like you have dabbled in quite a few different disciplines. Perhaps you can already tell that, for example, Ruby is easier for you to understand than Python. If that is the case, work through the Ruby courses, there are some great ones that cover quite a bit.

Hope it helps,

Ken

Thanks for the awesome help. I would like to ask what your favorite programming language is and why.

Ken Alger
Ken Alger
Treehouse Teacher

Tristan;

Oof. You should get a lot of various responses to that question. Kind of like asking what a person's favorite automobile is.

For me personally I would have to say, it depends on what I am trying to achieve, be it front-end or back-end related. I find myself gravitating more towards back-end development. I use PHP more frequently than others because I am more familiar with it than languages like Ruby or Python. I enjoy coding in Python and there are times when it is useful. Again, the language shouldn't really be the determining factor in the learning process.

When I first started programming many years ago, it was in BASIC (not Visual Basic), PASCAL, LOGO, FORTRAN, etc. Those were the days when having 256KB of RAM meant you paid big bucks for extra memory in your computer. Hard disk drives were not standard components and if you didn't have a bunch of 5.25" floppy disks lying around while working on a word processing document or spreadsheet your computer may just crash from lack of memory. I digress from the programming topic.

If you are absolutely starting out and want to learn a first language to someday become employable, it doesn't make too much of a difference. For back-end there are jobs available for Ruby, Python, PHP, C#, C++, Obj C, etc. For that matter, if the goal is simply to get a programming job you can get a nice, steady, fairly well paying job in the financial industry or many government agencies by learning COBOL. Not sexy, but many COBOL folks are getting ready to retire and there is a demand, especially if you know how to migrate COBOL to anything else. The State of Oregon, for example would love to do so, but there are significant issues preventing them from doing so.

It is really the programming skills that are necessary. Start with a track here at Treehouse, learn a language, do some projects on your own to enhance your skills, learn more about that language, do bigger projects, etc. It is all about starting somewhere.

Happy coding,

Ken

How long does it usually take to become proficient in...let's say python or javascript? Also, could I not do tracks and just do stuff from the library?

Ken Alger
STAFF
Ken Alger
Treehouse Teacher

Tristan;

That really is a difficult question. How much time are you putting in coding? How much are you pushing yourself? How quickly do you pick up programming languages? What is your personality like when you hit a wall and can't figure something out, do you try harder or walk away?

Some folks are able to spend a relatively short period of dedicated studying and programming and they are proficient. Some people go through, 4, 6, 8 years of college level computer programming classes and can barely figure out how to print "Hello World!" to the screen in Python.

As a bit of encouragement, I would recommend looking at Riley Hilliard's web site at his story and some of his blog posts. It might give some insight as to how a fellow Treehouse student managed to get into the workforce. I am sure there are a ton other folks out there as well.

Ken